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What’s in an application?—SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships

On this page

  1. Completed web-based SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships application form
  2. Completed SSHRC web CV
  3. Teaching appointment letter (if applicable)
  4. Program of work
  5. Bibliography and citations
  6. Letters of appraisal (two letters)
  7. Research appraisal
  8. Institutional nomination and commitment
  9. Allowable inclusions (if applicable)
  10. Research contributions
  11. Supplement justification and/or specific requirements for joint or special initiatives (if applicable)

Note: You cannot submit your application without all supporting documentation.

Applicants needing help while preparing their application are encouraged to contact SSHRC’s Research Training Portfolio at well in advance of the application deadline.

1. Completed web-based SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships application form

A completed application should address all the funding opportunity’s evaluation criteria.

The SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships “Application profile” section includes the following subsections:

  • Application title;
  • Preferred adjudication committee;
  • Supplement (if applicable);
  • Joint or special initiative (if applicable);
  • Does your proposal involve Indigenous research, as defined by SSHRC?;
  • Diversity considerations in research design module;
  • Do you hold a teaching appointment? (see section 3,Teaching appointment letter (if applicable)); and
  • Applicant (applicant information listed here is shared with the SSHRC web CV discussed below, although a different affiliation can be entered here if necessary).

2. Completed SSHRC web CV

Complete the SSHRC web CV and ensure that all information is accurate and up to date.

3. Teaching appointment letter (if applicable)

If you hold a teaching appointment of any kind, you must upload to your application a letter from a university official confirming that you do not hold a tenure or tenure-track position (i.e., a permanent faculty position, or a faculty position leading to permanency). A scanned copy of your contract will also be accepted.

Note: Teaching appointment letters and contracts are not shared with the selection committee.

4. Program of work

Maximum four pages

You must upload a copy of your program of work to your application. Your application will be reviewed by members of a multidisciplinary selection committee, not all of whom will be familiar with your area of research. Avoid discipline-specific jargon, acronyms and highly technical terms.

You must also ensure that your program of work includes the following.

  • State the title and subject of your doctoral thesis and discuss the relationship of your doctoral thesis to your proposed research. If the two areas of research are closely related, explain how your proposed research will develop or expand your thesis. If the areas of research are not related, describe your proposed area of research.
  • Outline your plans for achieving your research objectives. Clearly describe your theoretical approach, your methodology and how your proposed research will contribute to advancing knowledge.
  • Justify your choice of the proposed university or research institution based on the fellowship’s purpose and its related activities.
  • If applicable, indicate any other organizations with which you will be affiliated, and provide a justification for this choice. You must clearly identify your primary affiliation, and outline how your work at the secondary location(s) of tenure will intersect with and enhance your research at the primary location of tenure.
  • If your proposed research overlaps with areas funded by other granting agencies, justify why you have submitted this proposal to SSHRC (rather than to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research or the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council), based on the General Guidelines for the Eligibility of Subject Matter at SSHRC. If in doubt about your proposed research’s eligibility, consult SSHRC’s Research Training Portfolio at before submitting your application.
  • If your proposal involves Indigenous research, refer to the “Does your proposal involve Indigenous research as defined by SSHRC?” section of the instructions before preparing your program of work. If you answer “yes” to this question, the selection committee members will be instructed to consult and follow the Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research during the evaluation of your application.
  • If your project uses a research-creation approach, clearly indicate the research component of your proposed work. Outline your research objectives and its context, methodology and contribution to the advancement of knowledge. Make sure your proposal follows the Guidelines for Research-Creation Support Materials.
  • Do not use footnotes or endnotes in your program of work. Cite items in the bibliography.

5. Bibliography and citations

Maximum 10 pages

You must provide a bibliography for your proposed program of work. The bibliography should provide details for all references included in your program of work document. Ensure that your bibliographic citations are clear and complete to allow reviewers to locate the sources easily.

SSHRC recognizes and allows the use of different referencing styles.

6. Letters of appraisal (two letters)

One of the two letters of appraisal is an external, arm’s-length assessment and must be completed by an acknowledged specialist in your proposed area of research. An arm’s-length referee provides the selection committee with an impartial review of the application. The arm’s-length referee should be an expert in the field(s) of the proposed research and should be able to assess the research proposal and CV in that capacity.

Examples of arm’s-length referees include, but are not limited to, the external examiner from the applicant’s doctoral defence, or a specialist that the applicant met at a conference. It is not necessary for the applicant to have met the arm’s-length referee.

The arm’s-length referee cannot be:

  • a relative, friend or anyone else with whom the applicant has a personal relationship;
  • in a position to benefit from the funding of the application;
  • affiliated with the applicant’s current and/or proposed institution(s); or
  • professionally affiliated with the applicant (currently, in the past or in the immediate future), as a result of but not limited to:
    • being the applicant’s supervisor or trainee, or
    • collaborating, publishing or sharing funding with the applicant.

The absence of an arm’s-length assessment could adversely affect the review of the application.

The other letter must be completed by someone who can comment on your past and potential contribution to research (normally, your PhD supervisor).

In both letters, referees must assess and comment on the following:

  • applicant’s track record:
    • past and potential contributions to scholarly research; and
    • importance to the discipline of the journals in which the applicant has published, and/or the candidate’s prospects for publication.
  • applicant’s program of work:
    • originality;
    • significance and feasibility;
    • strengths and weaknesses of the proposed program of work;
    • appropriateness of the proposed institutional affiliation; and
    • applicant’s proficiency in the languages necessary to pursue the program of work (if applicable).

Comments should focus on the proposal, its theoretical framework, the relation of the proposal to the field and the methodology.

7. Research appraisal

The Research Appraisal form must be completed by the proposed research supervisor at the institution where you plan to hold your award.

If you propose to be affiliated with more than one institution, ask the supervisor at the primary location of tenure to complete the research appraisal. Research appraisals from supervisors at secondary host institutions are not required and will not be accepted.

If you intend to be supervised by more than one person at the same institution, you must select one supervisor who will be responsible for completing this form.

The research supervisor must describe:

  • how your project relates to the research interests and strengths of the proposed department;
  • how the research supervisor will serve as a mentor; and
  • what you will be able to offer as a research fellow.

Note: If you intend to be supervised by more than one person, you must select one supervisor who will be responsible for completing this form. You can provide information about the additional supervisor in your program of work.

8. Institutional nomination and commitment

The Institutional Nomination and Commitment form must be completed by the head of the department or designate at your proposed institution of affiliation.

If you propose to affiliate with more than one institution, the department head (or designate) at the primary location of tenure should complete the Institutional Nomination and Commitment form. Secondary host institutions do not have to complete this form; only the form from your primary location of tenure will be accepted. If the Institutional Nomination and Commitment from is completed by the host institution, your application will be considered incomplete.

Host institutions will be asked to outline how they will support effective research training and career development for the applicant, based on SSHRC’s Guidelines for Effective Research Training.

9. Allowable inclusions (if applicable)

Maximum one page

SSHRC asks its multidisciplinary selection committees to consider special circumstances that could have affected candidates’ research, professional career, record of academic or research achievement, or completion of degrees. Relevant circumstances might include administrative responsibilities, maternity/parental leave, child-rearing, illness, disability, cultural or community responsibilities, socio-economic context, or health-related family responsibilities, trauma and loss, or the COVID-19 pandemic. Specify the dates for any delays or interruptions.

As part of the Indigenous Talent Measures, Indigenous applicants are encouraged to use the “Allowable inclusions” section of their application form to describe special circumstances that could have had an impact on their academic or career paths.

Note: Applicants who completed their doctorate between September 2015 and September 2018 must describe in this section the career interruptions or delays experienced since completion of their doctorate.

Applicants who completed their doctorate after September 2018 can also choose to describe relevant career interruptions or delays.

All information provided to SSHRC is subject to the Privacy Act. Applicants are reminded that SSSHRC will share the information in the “Allowable inclusions” section of their applications with external assessors and selection committee members. SSHRC merit reviewers cannot share this information outside of the merit review process, which is subject to the Tri-Agency Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy. Learn more about SSHRC’s merit review process

10. Research contributions

Maximum two pages

You must attach a PDF copy of your research contributions. For each contribution:

  • Identify refereed publications with an “R.” in the left margin. A refereed work is assessed:
    • in its entirety—not merely an abstract or extract;
    • before publication; and
    • by appropriately independent, anonymous, qualified experts (“independent” in this context means at arm’s length from the author).
  • Provide complete bibliographic notices as they appear in the original publication (including co-authors, title, publisher, journal, volume, date of publication, page numbers, number of pages, etc.).
  • Research-related contributions can refer to: presentations, performances, artistic or community exhibits, interviews and media relations, websites, video and film, or festivals.
  • Specify your role in co-created works.
  • For publications in languages other than English or French, provide a translation of the title and the name of the publication.

From this list, choose your three most significant contributions, and describe to the selection committee their significance in terms of influence on the direction of thought and activity within the target community and in terms of significance to, and use by, other researchers and knowledge users.

Note: Do not include your PhD dissertation unless it has been reworked for publication.

Refereed contributions

Examples include books (where applicable, subdivide according to those that are single-authored, co-authored and edited works), monographs, book chapters, articles in scholarly refereed journals and conference proceedings.

Other refereed contributions

Examples include papers presented at scholarly meetings or conferences and articles in professional or trade journals.

Non-refereed contributions

Examples include book reviews, published reviews of your work, research reports, policy papers and public lectures.

Forthcoming contributions

Indicate one of the following statuses: “revised and submitted,” “accepted” or “in press.” Provide the name of the journal or book publisher and the number of pages. Contributions not yet accepted for publication should not be listed.

Creative outputs

Applicants whose research outputs include an artistic creation can list their most significant achievements, starting with the most recent, in a separate category: “Creative outputs.” This category should be included with categories shown above, as appropriate. Examples of creative outputs can include exhibitions, performances, publications, presentations, film, video, audio recordings, etc.

Note: Contributions in the context of Indigenous research can be listed within these or additional categories, in line with the Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research.

11. Supplement justification and/or specific requirements for joint or special initiatives (if applicable)

Maximum one-page justification per supplement or initiative, or other required information or form

If you wish to be considered for a supplement and/or joint or special initiative, and meet the eligibility criteria, you must select the supplement and/or joint or special initiative in the drop-down menu in the “Application profile” section of the application form.

Provide a maximum one-page justification, or other required information or form, for each supplement and/or joint or special initiative selected, as outlined in the “Supplement justification” and “Specific requirements for joint or special initiatives” sections of the instructions. Learn more about available joint initiatives and supplements.

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